Today’s Editorial for October 29: Protect our wildlife

In incidents reported in today’s Caymanian Compass, a stingray was maimed by a boat propeller and an endangered Whistling Duck was run over by a vehicle on the Linford Pierson Highway.

Over the course of the year, we’ve also had to write articles about the illegal poaching of endangered green sea turtles and the killing of several endemic, critically-endangered blue iguanas.

While the reasons for the killings and maimings of the animals vary from carelessness to illegality, the fact remains we should all take action to protect these species.

In the case of endangered animals, we need to protect them as a responsibility to the whole world. Sometimes species become extinct because of natural processes, such as survival of the fittest, but all too often these days they are becoming extinct because irresponsible actions of humans. Over-hunting, over-fishing and over-harvesting are one reason, but negative impacts on the environment, like through pollution, are another reason.

In the case of stingrays, while they are not endangered, they are critically important to Cayman’s tourism product, because Stingray City remains one of the most visited tourist attractions on Grand Cayman.

If careless boat drivers continue to show these docile creatures no regard when leaving the Stingray City area, we could see a decline in the numbers of rays there. Especially in these days of an uncertain US economy, anything that diminishes Cayman’s tourism product is very dangerous to us all.

For the most part, protecting Cayman’s wildlife only requires common sense. If you’re at the Sand Bar, start your boat and move slowly out of the area. If you’re on the Linford Pierson Highway, especially in the area of the sign that advises motorists to drive with care because of the Whistling Ducks known to live in the area, slow down and watch out for them.

If you see someone poaching anything – turtles, lobsters, conch or whelks – report them to the authorities.

And if you see anything that might impact Cayman’s precious wildlife in any negative way – like a pack of dogs heading for the Botanic Park – let someone know.

We share this earth with some 60,000 species of animals and some 300,000 species of plants. Every one of them has a role in the planet’s fragile ecosystem. All human beings, including residents of the Cayman Islands, must do their part to be responsible inhabitants of earth.